Townsend Targets Illegal Gun Sales

Article excerpt

Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend says she would focus in a second term on tracking gun sales to their sources and shutting down groups that are selling them illegally.

The Democrat has devoted much of her first term to fighting crime.

Mrs. Townsend, 47, has promised to cut gun-related crime in half if she is re-elected with Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

She also wants to expand the "HotSpot" program to 64 more high-crime areas in a second term. The program now operates in 36 Maryland communities, providing money for additional community police officers, prosecutors, probation officers and after-school programs.

Mrs. Townsend's supporters say she'll someday be a U.S. senator or the governor. Her GOP critics contend she is politically irrelevant, detached from the General Assembly and kept at arm's length by Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Nonetheless, Republicans concede they worry that Mrs. Townsend's Kennedy name will help her and the governor raise large sums of money from out-of-state donors for the election.

Mrs. Townsend, whose formal job description mentions only replacing the governor if he dies, spearheaded the requirement that Maryland high school students complete 75 hours of volunteer service before they are eligible for a diploma. Ninety-nine percent of all students are complying with the requirement.

Mr. Glendening put her in charge of the state's crime-fighting efforts when they took office in 1995. …